Matadors cross-country finishes strong at Pepperdine


Edward Segal

The list of CSUN’s finishers for the cross-country Waves Invitational, hosted by Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., on Oct. 1, 2022.

David Nunez, Reporter

The Matadors raced at the Waves Invitational last Saturday, traveling to Pepperdine University for their third meet of the season. The men clinched a first-place victory, while the women lost the tiebreaker for third place to the University of Redlands and finished fourth out of six teams.

This race marked the first victory that the men’s cross-country team has earned since 2012. Sophomore Daniel Rodriguez finished first for the Matadors and placed third in the entire race, with a final time of 27 minutes, 4 seconds over eight kilometers. Junior James Moore followed close behind and finished 10.6 seconds after Rodriguez to secure sixth place in the race.

“We saw the strength and the veteran leadership in guys like Danny and James,” said CSUN assistant coach Devin Elizondo. “The spotlight has been on the freshmen and new [athletes] lately because they’ve just been tearing it up, but it’s nice when the veterans can show through and help out the young guys.”

Freshman Atticus Hall also finished in the top 10 for the Matadors, landing seventh with a time of 27:19.5.

Sophomore Nicole Contreras finished first for CSUN in the women’s race and placed fourth overall. She ran six kilometers and finished with a time of 23:32.5.

Right behind her was junior Sonia Avila, who finished eighth with a time of 24:07.5, followed by sophomore Elin Markarian, who secured 11th place and came in 4.5 seconds after Avila.

“Nicky, Sonia and Elin have been those front-runners for us and just move through the pack,” said Elizondo. “I think Sonia was in the 30’s last race and then she moved to eighth place this race, and Elin did the same thing, she went from 18th to 11th. So, they’ve just been doing a great job.”

The Matadors’ game plan for this season has been to close the gaps between each other, finish as a unit and motivate each other if one starts to slow down.

“The task is still the same. Try to find a CSUN teammate and run with them, which as you can see we did a good job packing up and running in pairs, and not leaving teammates out to dry too long,” said Elizondo. “We want to finish within at least a few seconds of each other and just continue to close those gaps.”

CSUN’s next race will be hosted by Santa Clara University on Oct. 15. The Bronco Invitational will be a larger race, similar to the UC Riverside Invitational, which saw 35 teams compete. The Matadors are looking to take the experience they gained from their previous races and continue their upward trend in Santa Clara.

“We are going to get back to work because we know that the focus is on the Bronco in two weeks,” said Elizondo. “It’s another regional-type field so we’ll be competing against people in state and out of state, so it will be a great test for us to see what the Big West Championships will be like.”